Chris Jasper/NAIROBI

Kenya Airways' low-fare subsidiary Flamingo Airlines has devised a growth strategy that could see it expand Saab 340 operations, adding smaller aircraft in the 20-seat bracket to offer service to rural destinations, and launching an all-new operation to compete with Airkenya on routes into the country's game parks.

Flamingo, launched last July, currently operates two Saab 340s and will take a third in the second quarter of this year. Chief executive Stephen Clarke says it may also add a fourth, allowing it to target destinations as far afield as Kilimanjaro and Mwanza in Tanzania.

Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta airport-based Flamingo serves Kisumu three times daily, Eldoret and Malindi twice daily (once via Lamu) and Zanzibar, in Tanzania, four times a week.

Clarke adds that "tertiary level" destinations, such as Wajir and Garissa in north-east Kenya, offer potential but could not support 35-seat 340 operations. Service with aircraft in the Raytheon Beech 1900 category is a preferred option - although he has reservations about cabin standards on the type.

Clarke says Kenya Airways is also "actively considering" using Flamingo to launch services into game parks such as the Masai Mara from Nairobi's Wilson general aviation airport, initially using two de Havilland Dash 7 turboprops.

The same type is used on game park services by rival carrier Airkenya. The latter recently encroached on Kenya Airways' core territory by launching a subsidiary, Regional Air, which operates two Boeing 737-300s. This competes on routes from Jomo Kenyatta to destinations such as Asmera, Djibouti, Entebbe, Harare, Lilongwe and Lusaka.

Kenya will launch the game park operation by the end of 2001 if it opts to go ahead with the plan.

Source: Flight International